Roy Reynolds is CIO at VCG Technology Services in Stockport, a managed service provider supporting businesses in their technology and business transformation journey.

In 2025, the UK’s telephony infrastructure will enter a new era as the nation’s biggest operator shuts down its PSTN circuits completely.

This presents an undeniable challenge for businesses, but it also opens up a new world of opportunity for those looking to adopt technology that makes organisations more relevant and ready for the digital world.

The key terms in plain English

  • PSTN Public Switched Telephone Network A centuries-old network of analogue cables and hardware that allows traditional telephones to connect to each other.
  • ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network Launchedin 1986 to update traditional landlines, ISDN allows the transmission of voice and data digitally, enabling things like video conferencing.
  • VoIP Voice over Internet Protocol The new national telecoms network, which allows voice communications over IP networks such as the internet. VoIP calls only need an internet connection and can be made from almost any internet-enabled device.
  • Hosted VoIP A telephony system using VoIP and based in the cloud. Businesses can access all the features and functionality of VoIP without having to buy, manage or maintain expensive hardware on-site.

Why is PSTN being switched off?

The PSTN network was first introduced in the 1800s and consists of miles and miles of telephone lines and cables, as well as satellites, microwave transmission links, cellular networks and a whole host of other hardware needed for analogue telephones to talk to each other.

It is a sprawling infrastructure that is costly and cumbersome to maintain.

Now the technology exists to support a more streamlined system for public telecommunications, BT is keen to get moving with a nationwide IP network.

What will the new network look like?

The alternative technology will run on one fibre broadband network that provides the bandwidth and speed necessary to support VoIP for everyone.

From 2025, all consumers and businesses will make phone calls using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) which allows voice communications over IP networks like the internet. VoIP calls can be made using a wide range of devices, including desktop computers, mobile phones, landlines and almost any other internet-ready device.

Who will be affected by the switch?

Any person or business currently using analogue PSTN or ISDN systems, be it fax machines, telephone lines, CCTV or EPOS, will be impacted by the move to VoIP.

How will businesses be affected?

The impact of the switch-off will very much depend on how reliant businesses are on ISDN or PSTN for operations and what kind of hardware is being used.

The biggest impact will be felt by those that send and receive a lot of faxes or payments and those with heavy usage of landline telephones. But it’s not just about telephone calls. Businesses will need to identify and review everything that is connected to and working via the phone lines.

For some businesses, this will include things like door entry systems, payment services, Epos, Paypoint and building or fire alarms.

After the switch-off, there will be no maintenance or recovery of phone lines, and data sent will no longer be carried through ISDN and PSTNs, so it is essential that businesses have migrated to VoIP before the switch-off happens.

A chance to future-proof digital infrastructure

With the PSTN switch-off, business leaders have a golden opportunity to fully embrace digital transformation, to future-proof operations and remain relevant to customers and partners who are demanding more and more digital readiness.

Stepping into the Cloud with a VoIP solution for telecommunications will open up a world of cost-efficiencies, streamlined processes, automation and enhanced customer experiences that will help all businesses grow and adapt for years to come.

Businesses need agile, flexible and user-centric IT that adapts to their environment and grows with them, and the cloud offers solutions that scale and flex without limits. An all-digital communications environment means businesses can connect applications and systems with video chat, calls and collaboration tools so that they are closer to customers and colleagues alike.

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